[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

GEORGIA (TIER 1)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Georgia is a source and transit country for women and girls trafficked within the country and to Turkey, the UAE, Greece, Russia, Germany, and Austria for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women and girls from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, and other former Soviet states are trafficked through Georgia to Turkey, the UAE, and Western Europe. Men and women are trafficked within Georgia for the purpose of forced labor. Men and women in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which were outside of the government’s control, are trafficked for the purpose of forced labor.

The Government of Georgia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government significantly increased its victim assistance funding to $250,000 and modestly increased the number of victims assisted by government-funded programs. Moreover, all convicted trafficking offenders were given adequate prison sentences.

Recommendation for Georgia: Sustain funding for victim assistance programs; increase the number of victims identified and assisted; ensure that victims are not fined or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts they may have committed as a direct result of being trafficked; and continue strong efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict both labor and sex trafficking offenders.

The Government of Georgia demonstrated adequate law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Georgia prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons through its Law on the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons, adopted in April 2006, which prescribes penalties ranging from 7 to 20 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as rape. In 2008, the government investigated 14 trafficking cases, compared to 37 investigations in 2007. Authorities prosecuted 10 individuals for sex trafficking, compared to a total of 18 individuals prosecuted in 2007. All 10 convicted trafficking offenders were sentenced to time in prison; none received a suspended sentence. The average sentence was 14 to 15 years’ imprisonment; two convicted traffickers were sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in 2008. There were no reports of trafficking-related complicity of law enforcement personnel from either NGOs or the government.

Georgia maintained its adequate victim assistance efforts over the reporting period. The government provided $150,000 in funding for the support of two trafficking shelters that provided full victim assistance, including medical aid, psychological counseling, and legal assistance; victim assistance was not conditional upon cooperating with law enforcement. The government continued to implement a formal mechanism for its officials to identify and refer victims for assistance. The government and IOM identified 21 victims in 2008, a significant drop from 48 trafficking victims identified in 2007. The government provided shelter and comprehensive assistance to 10 victims, compared to 12 victims in 2007. The government also provided one-time compensation payments of $600 to five trafficking victims in 2008. Georgia provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they would face hardship or retribution. Victims were encouraged to assist law enforcement with trafficking investigations and prosecutions; 15 victims assisted law enforcement during the reporting period. Generally victims were not penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked

Georgia maintained efforts to prevent trafficking through public awareness campaigns and outreach activities, including meetings with university students, journalists, and ethnic minority representatives. The government distributed approximately 300,000 trafficking-awareness pamphlets at border crossings over the reporting period. The government continued efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts through awareness campaigns that highlighted Georgia’s law that punishes “clients” who benefit from the services of trafficking victims.